PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Taking a look at that credit card bill after the holidays can be very stressful. So getting a game plan together to tackle that debt is always a smart thing to do.
Credit card balances may seem like mountains to climb – and the longer you take to pay off the debt, interest makes those mountains higher.
So, where do you start? Joan Reading, President of the Bucks County-based Credit Counseling Center, says put the plastic away.
“Park your credit card for a while and let it cool off,” Reading said, “and then plan out how to pay back that balance.”
Reading says you should budget and put that down on paper. In many cases, she says those worried about finances actually have cash to spare, especially if they spend smarter.
“Look at what is and say, ‘Wait a minute. If I just pack my lunch and I didn’t go out to dinner as frequently as I do or stop buying coffee out, I do have the ability to pay back that debt,'” she said.
Reading says many people, after seeing their finances in front of them, feel better about how much extra money they can direct towards debt, especially if they cut back on a few things.
“I ask people to think about why do you need to support the pizza man, the coffee man,” she said. “I want you to support yourself.”
Another idea; set aside some money each month, so next holiday season you won’t need to reach for that credit card.
“For example,” Reading said, “if you’re spending $600 on Christmas, you’re putting away $50 a month.”